Inside the Wildcard: Sunday
THE FINAL Edition of our inside the Wildcard diaries documents just one thing – the 2022 Great Race.
The 2022 Bathurst 1000 definitely did not disappoint: It had every classic element that The Mount Panorama circuit loves; rain, sun and many, many safety cars. Over the 161 laps, there was 8 safety cars and all but 4 cars had some sort of crash or run off.
The Caltex young start drivers Matt Chahda and Jay Robotham started their day with a warm up session. From there, the two took part in the driver’s parade, waving to fans all across the mountain.
The duo qualified 26th, and on the grid they started under the Repco bridge, on a slightly damp grid box due to it being shaded. After the National Anthem and some team photos, Matt hopped in the car for the warm up lap.
The first corner was wet, leading to a complicated pile up on Mountain Straight.
Chahda was able to weave his way through the mayhem scratch free and the safety car was deployed straight away. After the race was underway again, lap 5 saw an even bigger shunt due to an out-of-control Tickford Mustang.
Chahda again was able to make his way through the debris and totalled cars with no issues. A great effort by Chahda had him in 15th within his first stint, however coming into the chase he went wide and slid over the grass, but re-joined the track safely in 23rd position.
“Just a little wobble under braking, nothing too big… (I) took a lot of concentration to not rotate the car in the mud, that would have been it,” Chahda outlined.
On lap 31, Chahda and Robotham did a driver swap and over his double stint the latter was able to make his way up to 10th position. Sadly, disaster struck for the Caltex team when the brakes seized in one of the pit stops.
“We were sitting just outside the top 10 before the brakes seized. We lost two laps there so it was good to get back on the lead lap,” Robotham explained. The incident left the number 118 Holden in 22nd place, where they continued to improve and make positions amid the many safety cars.
With a good strategy call from team, Robotham and Chahda hit a stroke of luck for the final pit stop.
Many cars had completed their final stop, however the Caltex team waited it out and a safety car occurred, allowing them to pit for the final time and gain the laps back they lost.
“Once it came out we were all pretty happy, we all knew that’s what we needed to get back on the lead lap,” Robotham explained.
Chahda went on to add: “We were about 3 seconds off being in a lot better position, just dropped in behind the lead car.”
The team ended up finishing the 6-hour race in 18th position on the lead lap, two of their main goals being achieved.
“We finished on the lead lap which was one of our main goals,” Robotham outlined. Chahda agreed by stating, “to achieve that as a little privateer team, and that we beat a few people who are in the real thing, was pretty cool.”
However, the race was not completed with ease. “Huge wrist pain. Pretty much from the first stint onwards we didn’t have a drink bottle, the foot fan wasn’t working, helmet fan kept popping out,” Chahda listed the issues that the two had to deal with over the race. Robotham struggled in the last stint “just trying to maintain the tiredness and the fatigue. It’s a long day, we were in our suits for 12 hours, it was hot out there and we didn’t have our drink bottle.”
Robotham’s summary of the race was, “It went very fast, it was good to make my debut in the main game … Beat a few cars and just stayed out of trouble, we’re all really happy.”
Chahda agreed summarising that “[the] day was good, stoked to be able to get through without making any real big mistakes.”